Is there a difference in Morality and Holiness?


I am still in Bavinck’s introduction of chapter 4 about the fallen image of God page 147.  The reason I am not leaving the introduction is because there are very deeps things that have been said. 

What is impaired but not lost is the soul’s mastery over the body, our bodies are often prisons for our souls and eventually our bodies completely fail our souls. What is lost completely is true knowledge in the mind and holiness in the will; we are spiritually dead and incapable of any spiritual good. Holy Scripture does not call the supernatural life that conforms to God “moral “but “holy,” using words like” righteousness,” “sanctification,” “godliness,” and expressions like the fear of God.” The ability to do the good, the supernatural, God-pleasing, eternal-life-deserving good, is totally lost.”” (Page 147 intro on the fallen image of God)


I find the first sentence very interesting because the relationship of the soul is something that all the major religions have to make sense of.


What is the relationship of the soul to the body?  Obviously various religions and Christianity have come to different conclusions.  Timelines can also be different.  Hinduism sees timelines in terms of cycles and not a straight line and the West sees time in a linear form.  I don’t think this is such a big problem.  First of all, what is Bavinck’s understanding of this issue?

I think he is saying that the Fall broke the soul’s mastery of the body.  (If something is broken it can be fixed).

He then says that ‘often our bodies are prisons’.  I think he mean that a person who has some type of disease can be trapped and not have full mobility.

He then goes on and gives us in two areas where something from God has been lost.

The mind = true knowledge has been lost

The will = Holiness has been lost.

In a nutshell in ourselves and our humanity we cannot do the good and think the good that God expects.  He then makes a demarcation between moral and holy.

I suppose he is separating the type of ethics that are in heaven and earth.  In God’s Kingdom Holiness is not only act it is also a state of being.  ‘Moral’ on the other hand is ethics in the day to day living of our lives in which we have to make moral choices.  I Think Bavinck here has to be rather careful because there is overlap of meaning between these two areas.  I have to say that even at this juncture we need to make sense of these terms.  Being a Religious Educator and breaking concepts down so that a child can understand it is very important.   I am not any different to a child in learning so let us look at this diagram:

We have to be careful though because God created humans at the Creation event before the Fall to be moral beings with the choice of right and wrong.



The relationship of the soul to the body is a very important concept in the East as well as the West and how do we make sense of it. In Gnosticism and Eastern religions, the body which is made up of material matter is seen as a bad thing.  The soul needs to be liberated from the body which is a prison.   I cannot accept this because if the soul does not have a body; How can we recognize each other? The fact is we cannot because we are in spirit form and things work differently there.  In Hinduism the freeing of the soul (Moksha) is the goal. 


Christianity does not accept this.  When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfect.  We lost our way but through Christ we will have resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15).  When the soul and the body are reunited, we will know each other again for all eternity.  Being united in Christ is a home coming and we are going to be like him.  If we are only souls; Then what is the point of having a physical heaven for a dwelling?  This does not make sense and it is illogical.


Concerning morality and holiness.  Both words share a space the heavenly and earthly realms.  There is overlap and I still don’t know exactly in which direction Bavinck will take these concepts.  I am looking forward to finding out in later blogs.


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